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Football: Wildcats score early, often to rout Dragons

New London-Spicer earns 60-29 win over Litchfield in Fallen Heroes game.

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Wildcats senior wide receiver Gabe Rohman (left) celebrates with junior running back Mason Delzer (right) after Delzer returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown during the Minnesota Fallen Heroes Football Game against the Litchfield Dragons on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, at New London-Spicer High School in New London.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune
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NEW LONDON — The Wildcats dominated their opponent for a third straight week, beating the Litchfield Dragons en route to a 60-29 victory in the inaugural Minnesota Fallen Heroes Football Game on Friday evening.

The Ryane Clark Heroes Project by Rick and Tracy Clark founded the Minnesota Fallen Heroes Football Game in collaboration with New London-Spicer High School.

The game honored 20 local fallen heroes. Ten players from each team gave up their names in honor of each of them. The teams honored the fallen heroes through stories that their families shared before kickoff.

As for the game, it was all New London-Spicer from the very get-go. Junior running back Mason Delzer returned the opening kickoff for a 95-yard touchdown to give the Wildcats an early 6-0 lead.

“It really was awesome. We’ve been working hard on special teams,” Wildcats head coach Chad Gustafson said. “We scored three special team touchdowns tonight. That really set the tone and got everyone excited.”

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The Wildcats defeated the Dragons in the inaugural Minnesota Fallen Heroes Football Game.

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Wildcats senior wide receiver Brycen Christensen runs near the sideline during the Minnesota Fallen Heroes Football Game against the Litchfield Dragons on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, at New London-Spicer High School in New London.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune

The other special teams touchdowns came from a fumble recovery from junior defensive back Luke Knudsen in the end zone and a 50-yard kickoff return from senior defensive back Bennett Schultz.

NLS scored the first 40 points of the game, marching into halftime with a commanding 33-0 lead.

“I think in the first half Litchfield only had a few first downs. Our defense was swarming all over the place,” Gustafson said. “They did a phenomenal job of executing the game plan. The defense really shined tonight.”

The Wildcats rushed for 308 yards on 39 attempts. Ten running backs saw at least one carry in the dominating win. Delzer led the running back committee with 100 yards and one touchdown on 12 carries.

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Wildcats junior running back Mason Delzer runs into a wall of Litchfield defenders during the Minnesota Fallen Heroes Football Game against the Dragons on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, at New London-Spicer High School in New London.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune

NLS senior running back Hunter Downey found the end zone twice. Senior running back Gavin Degner and junior running back Ethan Holme also each scored through the run game.

“The offensive line has been playing great. That made the running game even better,” Gustafson said. “Everyone was doing their job.”

Litchfield’s 29 points came in the second half.

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NLS travels to Milaca at 7 p.m. next Friday. Litchfield plays host to Watertown-Mayer at 7 p.m. next Friday.

“We’re really excited about how the kids are performing and hopefully we keep improving,” Gustafon said. “We are looking forward to next week against Milaca.”

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Dragons junior quarterback Garrison Jackman throws the ball during the Minnesota Fallen Heroes Football Game against the New London-Spicer Wildcats on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, at New London-Spicer High School in New London.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune

NLS 60, Litchfield 29

Litchfield (3-2)  0   0   14   15 — 29
NLS (4-1)         14  19   21   6 — 60

Scoring Plays
NLS – Mason Delzer 95 return (kick failed)
NLS – Delzer 9 run (Brycen Christensen pass from Blake Schultz)
NLS – Luke Knudsen end zone fumble return (Gabe Rohman kick)
NLS – Gavin Degner 1 run (kick failed)
NLS – Grant Paffrath 32 pass from Blake Schultz (kick failed)
NLS – Hunter Downey 5 run (Rohman kick)
LITCH – Garrison Jackman 67 run (Jackman kick)
NLS – Downey 1 run (Rohman kick)
LITCH – Cam Baalson 41 pass from Jackman (Jackman kick)
NLS – Bennett Schultz 50 kickoff return (Rohman kick)
LITCH – Elijah Lofton 21 pass from Jackman (Jackman kick)
NLS – Ethan Holme 21 yard (kick failed)
LITCH – Durant Lara 2 pass from Braden Olson (Jack McCann from Olson)

Litchfield
First downs: 17 … Penalties: 2-15 … Rushing (Individual and team): Garrison Jackman 3-58, Brandon Jansky 10-41, Braden Olson 1-3, Gray Nelson 2-3. Total: 16-105  … Passing (Individual and team): Jackman 21-42-0 180, Olson 3-3-0 60, Jack McCann 0-1-0 0. 24-46-0 240 ... Receiving: Cam Baalson 7-128, Blake Aller 5-38, McCann 4-27, Elijah Lofton 3-16, Olson 1-10, Jansky 1-9, Tait Christensen 1-4, Durant Lara 1-2 … Interceptions: None … Fumble recoveries: n/a … Tackles (solo-assist): n/a … QB sacks: n/a

NLS
First downs: 22 … Penalties: 6-64 … Rushing (Individual and team): Mason Delzer 12-100, Jack Steffensen 2-18, Gavin Degner 10-37, Hunter Downey 3-15, Brycen Christensen 2-34, Blake Schultz 1-2, Ethan Holme 3-31, Lucas Swenson 3-23, Luke Knudsen 2-42, Elijah Jacobson 1-3. Total: 39-308 … Passing (Individual and team): Schultz 10-17-0 104 ... Receiving: Christensen 4-49, Gabe Rohman 1-1, Grant Paffrath 3-51, Delzer 1-3 … Interceptions: None … Fumble recoveries: Degner 1, Knudsen 1 … Tackles (solo-assist): Christensen 5-0, Holme 5-0, Knudsen 3-1, Carter Herman 3-1, Isaiah Wendlandt 3-1 … QB sacks: Downey 1, Isaiah Halvorson 1

More football coverage:
Recent football coverage from west central Minnesota:
Cardinals outshoot the Blades 65-5 to open season with a 5-1 win

Michael Lyne joined the West Central Tribune as a sports reporter in June 2022, following his graduation from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, where he graduated with a bachelors degree in journalism and a minor degree in Spanish studies.

You may reach Michael at mlyne@wctrib.com, or by calling (320) 214-4345.
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